Uncertainty clouds the COVID-19 crisis as consumers put faith in brands to lend a helping hand. Through global insights, Curated ME aims to understand what consumers are looking for and how brand values can help build reassurance.
Most consumers are now beginning to adjust to the new norms of working from home, running marathons in their balconies and organizing virtual gatherings as well as Netflix parties. But as news of the global pandemic shutting down countries and pushing economies to a dangerous low continues to saturate the media, there is a sense of uncertainty that is evident in every individual's mind.
While collective efforts of staying indoors and appreciating those that are in the frontline are keeping spirits high and communities united even in times of isolation, consumers are still seeking a sense of comfort and reassurance. This is where brands that usually place social responsibility as one of their top priorities with brand purpose stitched into the backbone are being put to the test.
Hall & Partners insight portal ‘Global People Pulse’, a weekly tracker running in 10 countries that gathers consumer attitudes regarding COVID-19, indicated that 39% of consumers want brands to do good for everyone, while 49% would appreciate if brands were supporting those on the frontlines.
This is noticed among fashion retailers such as the Spanish brand Mango who have pledged to donate two million masks within several Spanish hospitals, while GAP Inc. takes on a similar initiative of supplying masks, protective gowns and goggles to healthcare workers. On the luxury front, Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Prada are taking similar steps to ensure that healthcare supplies are not limited.
Focusing internally, 55% believe brands should stick by their employees' side assisting them during this tough time and keeping them employed. As malls in the region shut down with only supermarkets and groceries operating, Majid Al Futtaim reassigned employees in the leisure department across the region to roles that could cater to the growing demand within their online and offline Carrefour supermarket stores. Brands that take these altruistic measures into consideration can win the hearts of consumers, existing and new.
But seeing as the main target audience for brands are their clientele, how are brands reassuring them during this time?
Inboxes are flooded with businesses reassuring their consumers that health and safety is their primary concern and highlighting the different preventive measures being taken to reach this promise. While words of comfort can build trust, some consumers want brands to go beyond that. According to the GWI, around 40% of consumers strongly believe that brands should be more generous by offering free services and be flexible around consumer payments terms.
These efforts are captured through several local initiatives. Hala Taxi Dubai is offering a discount for trips taken to select hospitals and healthcare facilities. While free voice and video calls are being encouraged by telecommunications company Etisalat on apps such as BOTIM, HiU, Voice UAE and C’Me. Several leading banks in UAE are also assisting their customers be providing relief packages to ease payments for loans, credit cards etc.
CURATED ME’s Take:
Amidst a crisis, timing is of the essence. Brands should aim to achieve the right balance within their marketing strategies. Closely listening to the pulse of consumers through market research can identify what their consumers expect from them and what impact their actions can have on their consumers.